Oregon can do better

By Observer editorial August 12, 2013 10:35 am
Keeping up with the Joneses is most times overrated. If we constantly look at what are neighbors are buying, driving, eating and wearing, and feel lacking if we don’t have the latest doo-dad, or are eating mac and cheese while they are eating steak, we will make ourselves miserable.

Sometimes, though, as in the case of childhood obesity, we may want to look at our neighbors. Oregon may want to see why its numbers have remained virtually the same, according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, while neighboring states of Idaho, Washington and California are all showing improvements. 

Childhood obesity has been rising for decades — and is still cause for grave concern. Blame our fast food nation. Blame parents who take the easy way out with processed foods loaded with sugar, fat and salt. Blame school cafeterias for not moving quick enough to add fresh fruits and veggies to the diet. Blame adults for being poor role models. Blame sedentary lifestyles revolving around Facebook, Twitter, TV, computer games and a ready supply of high-calorie snacks.

Oregon can, and must, do better in the fight against childhood obesity. Consider the costs. Weight problems lead to greater risks of high cholesterol, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, diabetes, even cancers. The resulting health costs are astronomical.

It’s not up to schools to fix the problem, although schools, by their nature being institutions of learning, should be on the forefront of nutritional education.

It’s not up to doctors to fix the problem, although doctors, many of them also overweight, must not give up in encouraging a hard-of-hearing public.

It’s up to each of us, as individuals and family units, to battle obesity. It’s up to us to decide that obesity is just not an acceptable option.

When we do, we can greatly enhance our quality of life and that of our family. We may not live more years — nothing is guaranteed — but we will have more quality in the years we do live.

What’s more, by being an example, by making good choices in the supermarket and at the refrigerator, adults can pass along a most important gift — quality of life — to their children.

In this land of abundance, of double cheeseburgers with bacon and supersized fries, of doughnuts, of ice cream emporiums on every corner, we no longer need to worry about getting enough calories. Most of us have ready access to a dietary cornucopia.

It’s not children’s fault. This is the environment adults have fashioned for them and into which they have been thrust. Adults need to learn to read nutrition labels and be role models for their children. Children need to learn the word no. 

The sooner we do, the sooner Oregon will make similar progress as its neighbors in the fight against childhood obesity.